Letting one of the Big Three go under could have disastrous effects on many corners of the American economy, McClatchy Newspapers reports. Beyond the jobs lost at the companies and their suppliers—as well as the jobs lost everywhere those workers spend their wages—the repercussions would hit sectors as diverse as defense, television, and even sports.
If the Big Three are unable to meet their obligations, taxpayers would need to pick up the tab for billions in pensions and health care. The Center for Automotive Research estimates that a 50% contraction in the industry would cost the country 2.5 million jobs. A GM or Chrysler bankruptcy "would be the start of a cascade of failures,” one industry analyst said. “The economy will be in chaos within weeks."